T Nation

Does Increased Strength Mean Bigger Muscles?

So i am currently cutting, down 4 kg so far, its been very successful and i have made a couple of changes to my diet and my workout routine. with these changes i have been able to make strength progress even while cutting, my question is this tough: does progress in strength mean that your also getting bigger?

my current understanding is that you need to be either at maintenance or in a surplus to build muscle size, whats your opinion/experience here?

No, you can also gain strength if your nervous system learns to recruit muscles more efficiently for whatever movement you are performing.

Usually you don’t get stronger whilst cutting however you did mention you have changed your training routine. This in itself can lead to strength gains. For example if you haven’t done a leg press in a long time you will most likely start off at a weight that you will be able to increase each week. Not because you are getting bigger and stronger muscles but more because you are learning the motor skills to perform that exercise more efficiently.

That’s why if you do the same exercise with the same sets and reps each time you will eventually stall and never proceed any further.

A lot of this depends on how many years you have been training for. New lifters make massive gains in both size and strength in a very short time whilst seasoned lifters make very small gains if at all.

[quote]Angus1 wrote:
Usually you don’t get stronger whilst cutting however you did mention you have changed your training routine. This in itself can lead to strength gains. For example if you haven’t done a leg press in a long time you will most likely start off at a weight that you will be able to increase each week. Not because you are getting bigger and stronger muscles but more because you are learning the motor skills to perform that exercise more efficiently.
That’s why if you do the same exercise with the same sets and reps each time you will eventually stall and never proceed any further.

A lot of this depends on how many years you have been training for. New lifters make massive gains in both size and strength in a very short time whilst seasoned lifters make very small gains if at all. [/quote]

its true i usually don’t make gains when in a caloric deficit, and i don’t make fast gains even when bulking. Past attempts at cutting have not generally been successful i have never been bellow 14% even when eating as little as 1800 calories i also loose strength pretty much as quick as i start eating a deficit.

It just seems i have found the perfect way for me to train and eat. i eat few meals, 3( now that i am cutting) i place big focus on the first meal of the day making it high protein, high fat( animal fat from eggs/bacon) and making sure i get enough cholestorol by again eating eggs and bacon( promotes the production of steroid hormones) also i take something called tran( cod liver oil outside Norway ) which basically is omega 3 and vitamin d(2000 ui)also i take whey protein with breakfast to increase the amount protein in that first meal.

my workout program is over 5 days, push/pull/legs/push/pull

The changes i made to the program where mostly in relation to volume and intensity. i knew i had to decrease both. i decreased volume by decreasing the amount of sets and introducing more supersets( with 1 minute rest between each exercise) also i kept the workout at 60 minutes or less. when it comes to intensity i mainly only changed it on the big lifts, on the bench i now build up to a failure set, first session i aim to fail at 9-10 reps, next session higher weight and 6-8 reps, then 4-5, then 1-3 reps and reset. on the deadlift i pick a weight i can do for 10 reps and do that for 5 reps untill i reach a goal total amount of reps(20 or 25) with little rest between the sets usually 1 minute.

the squat i have yet to figure out, i can’t seem to get the technique right and i don’t feel like i get much out of the exercise so i am thinking of scrapping it. people tell me tough that you need to squat in order to get real world applicable strength(like a strongman) so i keep it around but i am thinking of trying box squats or changing it to leg press.

ask and i can write out my program.

this on top of trying to get better quality sleep( by sleeping less would you belive, 7.5 hours) has led to many benefits. i have more energy and i am as said getting stronger while losing fat.

oh and i have been training for 3 years

generally, yes

Strength is mostly neural adaptation (it’s possible to gain size as well).

I have gained +40lb on squats while my legs actually shrank because I no longer train with volume (bodyweight and bf% remained stable)…just my experience with this.

You can definitely get stronger while on a cut, it’s just not as optimal. I’ve been leaning out for the past few months. Currently at 184 (down from 200). My 1RM in deadlift was 475 @ 200 and last week I was able to hit a very easy rep of 485 during my training session.

[quote]Doh wrote:
Strength is mostly neural adaptation (it’s possible to gain size as well).

I have gained +40lb on squats while my legs actually shrank because I no longer train with volume (bodyweight and bf% remained stable)…just my experience with this.

You can definitely get stronger while on a cut, it’s just not as optimal. I’ve been leaning out for the past few months. Currently at 184 (down from 200). My 1RM in deadlift was 475 @ 200 and last week I was able to hit a very easy rep of 485 during my training session. [/quote]

A good way to ensure that strength gains correlate somewhat positively with muscle gains (or muscle retention, for that matter) is to train for strength within certain TUT and training frequency boundaries. Of course, nutrition and sleep will be governing factors.

[quote]Doh wrote:
Strength is mostly neural adaptation (it’s possible to gain size as well).

I have gained +40lb on squats while my legs actually shrank because I no longer train with volume (bodyweight and bf% remained stable)…just my experience with this.

You can definitely get stronger while on a cut, it’s just not as optimal. I’ve been leaning out for the past few months. Currently at 184 (down from 200). My 1RM in deadlift was 475 @ 200 and last week I was able to hit a very easy rep of 485 during my training session. [/quote]

Maybe it is just your diet? Recent studies confirmed that 4-6 intense sets per muscle group is enough to stimulate the anabolism, working in a 5-10 rep range with 75% RM+

[quote]FattyFat wrote:
A good way to ensure that strength gains correlate somewhat positively with muscle gains (or muscle retention, for that matter) is to train for strength within certain TUT and training frequency boundaries. Of course, nutrition and sleep will be governing factors.
[/quote]

That’s definitely true. During my gaining phase, my frequency was definitely higher but volume is still kept low per session. I only perform singles for squats at 90-95% of perceived max for the day.

There was a period of time where I lowered the weight and kept recovery period low. I started with 60s rest and eventually progressed down to 30s (pretty much like EDT). Although the reps performed were still singles, my leg size was definitely a lot bigger then despite lifting lighter weights.

[quote]7asssa7 wrote:
Maybe it is just your diet? Recent studies confirmed that 4-6 intense sets per muscle group is enough to stimulate the anabolism, working in a 5-10 rep range with 75% RM+[/quote]

The rep ranges you prescribed will definitely promote more anabolism as above had mentioned (TUT). For me, I don’t plan on competing in BB or PL so I was never really interested on gaining any on my lower body. I’ll just take what size a heavy squat will give me. Also, since I’m on a caloric deficit diet, I figure the lower volume approach and high intensity will be better.

I do things completely different for my upper body of course :slight_smile: